#108: Training an Anaconda for an X-Ray

Back in February Rochelle and I showed you some of the training we were doing with our two juvenile anacondas, Marion and Wilson. It's been tremendous fun working with them and hopefully as enriching for them as it has been for us.

The finished x-ray of Marion the anaconda

The Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA) was in Providence recently for their annual conference. They visited the Aquarium to see, among other things, some of the work the training department has been doing with fish, turtles, frogs and snakes, oh my! Their visit was the perfect motivation for pushing ahead on the x-ray behavior that we've been working on.

Marion the juvenile anaconda is x-rayed.

We haven't measured Marion lately but a conservative estimate of her length is approximately five and a half feet. Consequently, we had to x-ray her in sections. Eric Payne, an Aquarium biologist who works in the Animal Health Department, did a tremendous job of calibrating the x-ray machine so that we could obtain the images we needed through the section of clear PVC pipe. He was also super patient as I struggled, for much of the session, to untangle myself from a very "lively" Marion. Despite her desire to wrap herself around my arm or slither off in the wrong direction you can see that as soon as I could manage to orient her head towards the opening of the pipe she tended to go right in. Here's the full video.

Standing next to an x-ray machine in use makes it imperative that you wear protective gear, in this case a heavy lead lined apron, collar and glove. The glove made it difficult to manipulate Marion into position but, with Eric's help, we worked our way around it and, as you can see in the video, we were pretty successful. Now, on to a new behavior!



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